Written by: Dr. Freda Bush
One of the greatest privileges I’ve had as an adult is to be the mother of four children, the grandmother of nine and most recently the great-grandmother of one. Yes, I call parenting a privilege as defined in Webster’s Dictionary, “a special right or benefit enjoyed by a particular person or group.” Parenting is also a somewhat daunting task as one is expected to raise children to become independent, responsible adults caring for themselves. My father, who was a Baptist preacher and parented 10 children, often quoted Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go…” indicating we were expected to become independent of him, subsequently marry and become parents capable of repeating the same process with our children. I must say, both he and my mother modeled the expected behavior and let us always know they cared for each one of us.
Parent –child connectedness has long been identified as a protective effect for young people. Nevertheless, there are some challenges along the way that can sabotage the desired success. Such challenges include early sexual debut, teen pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases and alcohol/substance abuse. In a review of over 190 published research articles that explore how connectedness influences adolescent sexual health, researchers identified evidence that family connectedness, parent-adolescent general communication, parent-adolescent sexual communication, parental monitoring, partner connectedness (for females), and school connectedness are associated with delayed sexual initiation or protection against early sexual debut.
In today’s Advisory “Science Speaks”, MI’s Summer Intern, Dinorah Garza from Monterrey, Mexico wrote a synopsis of the study she is doing for her graduate thesis on the Relationship between Parental Styles and Sexual Risk Behavior in Adolescents. This section will provide you with more insight about parenting styles that prove to be effective.
MI in its Building Family Connections (BFC) program, trains facilitators to go out into the community to speak with parenting adults, whether that be in schools, churches, community centers, or wherever, because parents have the biggest influence on our youth. We provide an in-depth curriculum designed to equip parenting adults with the knowledge and skills necessary to have confident and consistent conversations with their youth. We encourage parents and other adults who are performing parenting responsibilities to reach our young people with the truth, hopefully before they are negatively influenced by their peers and by society as a whole. We believe the conversation starts at home and continues for a lifetime, because those youth will then be able to pass on the knowledge and model wise decision making to their own children someday. With training, parents will be enabled and empowered to perform the privilege of parenting well.
Please consider being a part of our Building Family Connections program in the near future. We are currently making plans for another BFC training event in Austin in the summer of 2016. We will be posting dates on our website soon.
1. Markham CM, Lormand D, Gloppen KM, Peskin MF, Flores B, Low B, House LD. Connectedness as a predictor of sexual and reproductive health outcomes for youth. J Adolesc Health 2010;46(3):S23-S